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70 x 70 x70: Susan Avery: Art Jericho
Oxford-based artist Susan Avery’s latest show is composed of 70 small watercolours with a matched price of £70 and timed to celebrate a significant zero in her life: hence its title. Ever modest, Avery felt embarrassed about celebrating just herself so is giving £10 from each sale to the Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre in gratitude for the help it has given her.
Those who know Avery’s work will at once recognise her distinctive approach, which combines an analytic style with a subtle palette. Each piece captures an aspect of Oxford in great detail or in a broader-brush. Her approach is strongly influenced by her love of architecture, geology and patterns, which leads her to focus on objects, the built and natural environment, rather than people who own or have shaped them.
Avery’s technique is based on 18th-century watercolour. She builds each picture out of minute sections of detailed colour which she then bounds with sharp, definitive edges, enabling her to delineate details and provide the contrast between subject and setting.
Many pictures are in sequences or pairs: a charming pair are Port Meadow in Winter and Port Meadow Floods. In the first three tiny figures stand erect and formal against a frozen meadow and sky. In the second the whole melts into the flood plain, which is indeed Port Meadow.
Ghost Trees (above) is an intimate portrait of the Ghost Forest exhibition in front of the University’s Natural History Museum. The focus here is on the detail of two of the exhibition’s tree stumps and buttress roots that have been cruelly destroyed by rainforest deforestation, shown in contrast to a museum frontage that presents itself as passive, gentle and accepting.
The exhibition is at Art Jericho. Open Wednesday to Sunday and continuing until April 14.